California School District Votes to Inform Parents of Child’s Gender Status, State Superintendent Escorted out of Meeting

California School District Votes to Inform Parents of Child’s Gender Status, State Superintendent Escorted out of Meeting

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond (L) speaks as a public commenter at a Chino Valley Unified School District meeting in Chino, Calif., on July 20, 2023. (Micaela Ricaforte/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

7/21/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

Chino Valley Unified teachers must notify parents if their child identifies as transgender under a new policy approved by the district’s board at a July 20 meeting, where fierce debate took place among the community and the state’s top education official was escorted out of the meeting.
The board voted 4–1 to approve the policy introduced last month by Board President Sonja Shaw, which requires schools to notify parents in writing within three days if their child identifies as transgender, is involved in violence, or shares thoughts of suicide.
Ms. Shaw said she introduced the policy because the current California Department of Education guidance advises school officials not to disclose a student’s transgender status without the student’s permission.
“Schools should not withhold information from parents ... in any context,” she said when introducing the policy during a June board meeting.
The meeting Thursday drew a crowd of more than 300 parents, teachers, and community members on both sides of the issue—as well as State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who participated in the meeting as one of the public commenters.
Mr. Thurmond was escorted out of the building by security after a contentious exchange between him and Ms. Shaw.
California State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond speaks during a news conference at Nystrom Elementary School in Richmond, Calif., on May 17, 2022 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond speaks during a news conference at Nystrom Elementary School in Richmond, Calif., on May 17, 2022 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In his comment against the policy ahead of the vote, Mr. Thurmond warned the board that the policy may violate state privacy laws and might make LGBT students feel unsafe if their parents disapprove of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
After his comment, Ms. Shaw replied, “Tony Thurmond, I appreciate you being here, but we are here because of people like you. You’re in Sacramento proposing things that pervert children.”
When Mr. Thurmond returned to the microphone to respond, Ms. Shaw called for a five-minute break, and Mr. Thurmond was escorted out of the building.
“I’ve served as a board member, and I know … when someone is speaking in public, you don’t engage them from across the board,” Mr. Thurmond told reporters in a press conference moments later. “I was shocked that the board president started to dress me down as a speaker who stayed within the one-minute limit, so I returned to the podium … I respected the rules as they articulated tonight. As a public speaker and as a citizen, I expect to be treated with the same respect.”
Later in the meeting, Ms. Shaw addressed the state superintendent’s claim that LGBT students are at risk of suicide.
“If [kids feel suicidal], involve their parents,” she said. “Stop assuming that parents are dangerous. That’s reckless. Non-affirming households are not dangerous … They’re going to provide and pull their child in closer to [what they need] to get better.”
Chino Valley Unified School Board President Sonja Shaw speaks in support of a parental rights policy proposal at a press conference in Chino, Calif., on June 15, 2023. (California Family Council/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Chino Valley Unified School Board President Sonja Shaw speaks in support of a parental rights policy proposal at a press conference in Chino, Calif., on June 15, 2023. (California Family Council/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Dozens of speakers on both sides of the issue showed up to comment on the matter.
Those in favor of the policy advocated for what they called parents’ rights.
“It is morally repugnant that they think parents shouldn’t be involved with their children,” said one parent.
One teacher argued that school officials should not make major life decisions for students.
“The key in all of this is parents. I am not the child’s authority; I am the teacher,” the teacher said. “I am not in charge of the student. I do not buy their clothes, raise them, pay their bills, get their haircut, go to soccer games. I do not make life decisions for the children that sit in my classroom because I am their educator, not their parent.”
Those in opposition echoed Mr. Thurmond’s comments, saying the policy would put LGBT students at risk.
“If you pass this policy, you are telling trans kids they don’t matter and you are placing a burden on teachers,” said one former student.
Meanwhile, Chino Teachers Association President Brenda Walker said the policy would be “divisive and unnecessary.”
The policy is based on Assembly Bill 1314, introduced by California Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Riverside) in April but which died in an Assembly committee.
The policy also requires schools to notify parents if their child wants to change their name or pronouns, or asks to access bathrooms, locker rooms, or sports teams that do not match their assigned gender at birth.
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

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Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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